Developing an interactive and immersive 3D model of the (then) proposed Library of Birmingham in order to co-design with citizens, businesses and communities.
The Library of Birmingham was a £189m project to build an iconic new Central Library for Birmingham. The SME Daden developed an immersive model – working from architects plans - for use by Library staff to plan the use of the new building and to engage with the community. It followed a three phase approach: Phase 1 virtual construction of the “steel and concrete” of the new Library; Phase 2 - finishes, fixtures and fittings, including flooring and lighting; Phase 3: Creation of the consultation tools and systems.

The Virtual Warehouse Key to the project gave Library staff the ability to make changes to fixtures, fittings and equipment which were within their control. A virtual warehouse was created full of example fittings and furniture that the team could place in the build to try out ideas and to keep it up to date with design decisions. We even trained a couple of the team in how to make their own objects.

Consultation Tools were developed to help users interact with the model this included voting & survey podiums, layout selection choices, a virtual tour guide, a “flying book” tour, information icons, virtual smiley “post-it” notes. The virtual post-its could be used to make comments, and then voted on by other visitors. All data was logged on the web and available to the project team.

The virtual Library made big impact at the road-shows done by the team to educate citizens on the new Library providing the opportunity to reach more people, more quickly and in

Resources needed

Incorporation of virtual build into the physical build and design costs and contracting services.

Evidence of success

The 3D models used by architects and builders do not let the real users of a building really get to grips with what it will be like to use, work in and visit the building. By letting them experience and interact with the space in a social (multi-user) 3D environment a lot of low level decisions can be taken to ensure that the space is fully fit-for-purpose, and the community voice be better heard and bought in to the project – a form of digital planning-for-real.

Potential for learning or transfer

The approach could be transferred to the development/redevelopment of any public/civic building
Main institution
Birmingham City Council
West Midlands, United Kingdom
Start Date
April 2009
End Date
March 2013


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